MEd CS Student (Aloha Kumu Cohort)

Samantha Kuakini

“Teaching is a lot more than just educating students to me; it’s also about building relationships and having a significant long-term effect on their lives and the same community I come from.”


Wai‘anae, HI


Curriculum Studies; School of Teacher Education - Elementary

Related Degrees

  • MEd, Curriculum Studies: National Board Certification Teacher Leader

How did you become interested in the field of education? The Aloha Kumu Program?
I always knew that I wanted a job that would allow me to work with kids. I decided to become an educator because I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. Teaching is a lot more than just educating students to me; it’s also about building relationships and having a significant long-term effect on their lives and the same community I come from.

I was introduced to the Aloha Kumu program by some of my colleagues who went through the same program years ago. I also recall Dr. Kimo Cashman coming to present to our cohort right before we graduated from undergraduate school about the Aloha Kumu program. I was very interested in this program in particular because one of the goals is to prepare teachers who have the knowledge, skills, and commitment to address the educational needs and aspirations of the communities we work in.

Where do you work?
This is my fourth year working as a kindergarten teacher at Mā‘ili Elementary School in Wai‘anae. I am very fortunate to teach at the same elementary school I attended.

What will your next school year look like amid COVID-19? How are you adapting?
As we continue to go through a worldwide pandemic, my school complex has decided to continue distance learning through the second quarter. It is very unfortunate that I haven’t met my students face-to-face yet this school year. It has been very challenging to teach kindergarteners virtually, but my students and I are starting to get the hang of it. I find myself being a lot more creative with my lessons to keep my students engaged, and we tend to take movement breaks often. I am trying my best to be as positive as possible during this difficult time, and it is giving me the opportunity to learn so much about different technology platforms.

How has the COE program impacted or benefited your career path?
The COE program has given me the opportunity to meet many great individuals and some who I see being lifelong friends. I really enjoy working with and learning from others who share the same goals as me. It has also given me the opportunity to learn about philosophy for children “P4C” for the first time. Learning and practicing P4C in the classroom has opened my eyes a lot as an educator and changed some of my views about teaching. For example, I can learn alongside my students instead of them always learning from me.

Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to pursue teaching as a career?
My high school English teacher Ms. Allison Zimpfer inspired me to pursue teaching as a career. I was never a huge fan of reading and writing and she was aware of that. She always tried her best to help me through my challenges when it came to reading and writing. She never gave up on me, made things easier, and was straight forward when I needed a reminder.

What are your future visions and goals?
I’m looking forward to graduating in May 2021 from graduate school and also becoming National Board Certified. I’m always learning and growing as an educator. I want to learn more about P4C, continue to practice it, and eventually master it so I can introduce it to other educators.

Anything else you would like to include?
I would like to thank my family, boyfriend, and colleagues for supporting me throughout graduate school and the National Board process. I also want to thank my professors and cohort for supporting me as well.


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